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Seven ways of looking at Daniel and Revelation

Most interpretative web sites pretend that theirs is the only way of looking at the scriptures. Not this one! Only by looking at the other approaches can we appreciate the strengths of what modern prophets have said.

The 'antichrist' scriptures

Many non-LDS prophecy sites are on the "links" page
Footnote to this page: how this web site compares with other LDS sites


The seven points of view

1. "The Bible is just stories"?

Some people accuse the Bible of being "just stories". But the Bible claims to be faithful history and an eyewitness account. The law says that someone accused of lying (in this case, the prophets who wrote the Bible) are "innocent until proven guilty". So where is the proof that the prophets were lying?

Until doubters can offer some evidence that these things are not true, I shall have to assume that the prophets who wrote the Bible were telling the truth. After all, there are plenty of cases where the doubters thought they had proof and it turned out to be the opposite. The most famous example is probably the Bible's eyewitness account of the creation of the world.

2. "Daniel and Revelation just use flowery language"?

Some people say that the difficult parts of Daniel and Revelation are just allegories, parables, or a memorable way to make a moral point. But if they are just parables, why are they so precise? Why the numbers 1260, 1290, and 1335 for example? The writers don't say these are parables, they often give the interpretation themselves and say that the kings are actual and real kings, and the nations are real nations.

3. "You are not supposed to understand"?

Some people say that those parts are not supposed to be understood by anyone. I can understand why God would choose not to make them available to everyone at the same time (The Lord teaches "line upon line, precept upon precept"). But if no-one was to understand them, why did God have them written in the first place?

4. "The prophecies were fulfilled by Antiochus IV and Nero?

Some people say that the prophecies were all fulfilled long ago (this is very convenient if you don't want the prophecies to apply to yourself!) For example, they say that Daniel was mainly speaking about Antiochus IV, and they say that John was mainly speaking about the emperor Nero. However, these people did not fulfil the prophecies, whereas later events fulfilled them perfectly.

The simple fact that this theory needs two different people and two entirely different sets of circumstances should make the Bible reader suspicious, as Daniel and Revelation apparently cover the same key events.

5. They won't be fulfilled until Jesus returns"?

Some people say that these prophecies all deal with events at the end of time that have not yet happened. But what about the 2000 years in between the Bible and the last days? Did God not notice this couple of millennia (a time period even longer than from Moses to Revelation)? It is convenient for some churches to have a blind spot regarding the great events of the last 2000 years, but the Bible does not ignore these troubled times.

Daniel and John do not say "and then, 2000 years later". Their narratives start at their own days and go on to the end of the world - without any breaks. This idea that God lost interest for two thousand years just plays into the hands of critics. Atheists might well say, "if your God has forgotten you for two thousand years, maybe he wasn't there in the first place."

6. They were fulfilled by the Catholic church?

This would be a good argument except for one thing - the Catholic church does not fulfil all (or even most) of the prophecies. In fact it is quite an unfair and unchristian thing to say in my opinion. See the page on the Catholic church for details.

7. There are more important things to study?

Finally, we have the LDS interpretation. In most LDS commentaries on Daniel, the numbers are glossed over. This follows Joseph Smith's comments that there are more important things to study. The one church that has the answers at its fingertips has never bothered to look for them! Why? Because it has more important things to do.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is spread by love and by power, not by digging up obscure scriptures. When you have the truth, you don't need to try and prove it. So I hope I am not doing the church a dis-service by publicizing this material, but I just thought some people might like to know.

 


Does the crucial 1260 "days" end precisely with "the Ancient of Days"?

It is common to assume that the events described in Daniel 7:9-14 - the appearance of the Lord and the Ancient of Days, mark the end of the 1260 "day" period. But the Bible, as far I understand it, does not allow this interpretation.

We must remember that the 1260 "days" only represents a part of the time that the little horn exists. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 and other scriptures indicate that the particular force that opposed the early church, often referred to as "antichrist", exist from the time of the New Testament up until the very end. Clearly this is different from the specific 1260 "days" of Satan's triumph.

The 1260 "days" is the period when the saints are "given into the hand" of the horn (Daniel 7:25). The horn existed before that time (verse 24), and there is a period of time at the end when the saints are not controlled by the horn, but build the kingdom of God ready for the Ancient of days. See the discussion of Daniel 12) for details. Note that verse 1 explicitly states that the time at the very end, the time of the greatest trouble, is not the time when the church is under the control of Satan. Quite the opposite: "at that time thy people shall be delivered".

Is the church controlled by Satan when Jesus returns?

The 1260 "day" period is not just a period of serious opposition from the world, as this could apply to any period of church history. No, this is a time when the church is given into the hands of the horn (Daniel 7:24), who scatters its power (Daniel 12:7); the church is in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6), and the beast has overcome the church (Revelation 13:5-7). This is not the language of tribulation. This is the language of defeat!

Is the Bible suggesting that, when Jesus returns, the church will be defeated and controlled by Satan?

It is worth remembering that If we believe that the 1260 "days" ends with the Ancient of days, then it does not include the Dark Ages, which then do not even merit a mention. So the final period before the Second Coming (according to that theory) is far worse than even the worst excesses of the Dark Ages all put together!

As I have pointed out in the 101 Bible Prophecies section, there are numerous prophecies of a final restoration of the gospel - a restoration that includes missionary work, a great gathering of believers (an ensign to the nations) before the Second Coming of Christ. The message is triumphant, not defeatist.

The final triumph of the church

The idea that the enemies of God would control the church at the very end, conflicts with the message of all the prophets. The great overview of world history is in Daniel chapter 2. The scene ends with the kingdom of God starting small, but rolling out to fill the world. Daniel did not say that the stone would roll forth, grind to a halt, and then stop for the last three and a half years!

The great sign of the Second Coming is that the gospel will be preached to all the world (Matthew 24:14) and angels declare it to every nation (Revelation 14:6-7). Does this sound like a period when the church is controlled by Satan?

The description of the 1260 "days" is one of total defeat of the church, so bad that previous apostasies are not even mentioned. Yet scriptures like Revelation 16:15, Matthew 24:15-16, Matthew 24:31 and 2 Thessalonians 1:10 indicate that when Jesus returns there will be believers present.

It is true that there are scriptures that indicate opposition to the church at the very end, but the world always opposes the church. Opposition by Satan is not the same as control by Satan.

For more about the period between the restoration of the saints and the final destruction of the horn, see the commentary on Daniel chapter 12).

What about Revelation 11:3-7?

There is an important 3 1/2 year period just before the Second Coming, but it is nothing to do with the 1260 "days" when the "little horn" is triumphant. If anyone gets the two confused, they must not be reading their Bible. The two events are complete opposites in nearly every way:

When the "horn" or the "beast" has power over the saints When two witnesses prophesy in Jerusalem
The church flees into the wilderness
(Revelation 12:6)
The church is active in the city and has power to defeat its enemies
(Revelation 11:3-13)
Very long - begins soon after John, and ends not long before the Second Coming
(Revelation 17:10-11 and 19:11-20)
Very short - takes place within the lifetime of two mortals
(Revelation 11:3, 7-8)
Ends with Satan losing power
(Daniel 7:26)
Ends with Satan gaining power
(Revelation 11:7)

What about Daniel 7:21-22?

These verses in the King James translation say that the little horn prevailed against the saints "until the Ancient of days came". But what does the original Hebrew say? I am no Hebrew scholar, but a simple look at a scholar's Bible shows that things are not as they seem.

The key words are "made war with the saints and prevailed against them":

"made war": although "made war" is a possible translation in the right context, the Hebrew just means "opposes".

The word "prevailed": this is the only time in the whole Bible when that Hebrew word is translated "prevailed". Usually it is translated as something weaker, like "can", or "is able".

"against them": this crucial phrase is not in the Hebrew text.

The use of "kel" ("can" or "be able") in Daniel

A look at the uses of the word translated as "prevailed" in Daniel 7:22 (Aramaic "kel", Strong's number 03202) will show that "prevailed" is a mis-translation:

So Daniel 7:21-22 should probably be translated:

"I beheld, and the same horn opposed the saints, and was able to until the Ancient of days came, and judgement was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom."

So Daniel 7:21-22 says the horn is able to fight against the saints until the Ancient of Days comes. It says nothing about the time when, for 1260 "days", the horn controls the saints - the limited period when the saints were "given into his hand".

What about Daniel 12:1-7?

On first reading, these verses in the King James translation seem to be clearly saying that the 1260 "days" take us right up to the Ancient of days (verse 1) and the resurrection and judgement (verses 2-3). But a closer inspection suggests that this is not the case. Verse one is not talking about the Ancient of days, and verse 2 is not speaking about the resurrection. Daniel chapter 12 is discussed in more detail elsewhere.



A footnote...

Where this site might disagree with other LDS websites

The one main area where this web site disagrees with some other orthodox websites such as http://members.xoom.com/mdalby/ is whether Daniel 7 and Revelation 12 talk about the same 1260 "days". I believe that they do, for the reasons given here.

Some people believe that Daniel 7 is talking about a literal three and a half years immediately prior to the council at Adam-ondi-Ahman. I see serious flaws in that argument. In my opinion, the idea of a brief final last days tribulation, along with the idea of a new world leader called "Antichrist", is a myth devised by the traditional churches. It is an attempt to explain away the prophecies about the Great Apostasy. In the absence of a clear instruction not to, some Latter-day Saints have just accepted the prevailing Catholic-Protestant view.

Of course, I could be wrong and the others could be right. But that is how it looks to me




the bottom line

After looking at so many different points of view, one thing becomes obvious: we need a prophet to guide us!

 

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